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Resilient Habitats:
Greater Sage Grouse

Male greater sage grouseAcross the West, officials from state, federal and local agencies, conservation and sportsmen organizations, and private landowners collaborating to protect an unlikely icon: the sage grouse. Though its small in stature, the future of the sage grouse will have a huge impact on our ability to protect some of our most beautiful landscapes across 11 Western states.

Over the past century, the sagebrush habitat that the grouse depends on to live has been decimated, reduced by as much as half nationwide. And while half of their home has been wiped out, sage grouse have been disappearing at an even faster rate, with as much as 90% of their population disappearing over the same time period.

These startling declines have spurred questions about how to safeguard this special bird, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service even considering protecting the Sage Grouse by listing it under the Endangered Species Act. It’s a drastic move that the agency has until 2015 to decide on. In the meantime, the threats to the sage grouse have sparked wildlife conservationists to embark on a new effort to restore and rejuvenate the Sage Grouse population so that they are no longer considered threatened and listing them under the Endangered Species Act is unnecessary. more Read more

Current vs. Historic Range

Map courtesy of Wild Earth Guardians

The historic habitat of the greater sage-grouse closely matched the presence of sagebrush in what became thirteen western U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. However, the species soon was wiped out in Nebraska, Arizona, and British Columbia and may soon disappear from Alberta without action.

Climate Change Scenarios

Map courtesy of Wild Earth Guardians

Researchers simulating the effects of climate change found that sagebrush steppe will contibue to disappear as mean temperatures increase. In the worst case scenario, sagebrush species – like the greater sage grouse – will be restricted to just 20 percent of the land on which they currently roam. The largest remaining areas will be in southern Wyoming and in the gap between the northern and central Rocky Mountains, followed by areas along the northern edge of the Snake River Plateau and small patches in Washington, Oregon and Nevada.

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